What Mike Murphy Should Have Said

 

My reaction to Mike Murphy’s recent appearance on the Ricochet Podcast can be summarized with one word: frustration. I think it safe to say that my reaction is one shared by many – probably most – members. That said, the cause of my frustration puts me in a minority on Ricochet. Though I do not support comprehensive immigration reform at the present moment, I think it will be necessary at some point and I was deeply disappointed at how poor a case Murphy made for immigration reform as a political necessity. There are few things I find more frustrating than listening to an argument to which I am sympathetic put poorly. Now I don’t expect everyone to be persuaded by this, but here’s what I think Murphy should have said:*

First, we need to recognize that the GOP’s problem with the Hispanic vote is a serious one. Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States and are the fastest-growing segment of the American population. There are currently around 25 million Hispanics eligible to vote in the United States, a number set to rise to 40 million by 2030. Even if Hispanic immigration (both legal and illegal) were stopped entirely today, if the Republican Party cannot get a significantly higher percent of the Hispanic vote than it has in recent elections it is headed for long-term minority party status. This is particularly true in the case of presidential politics. The GOP cannot achieve an Electoral College majority without Texas and Hispanics are on track to become the largest ethnic group in Texas in about a decade. A Republican Party that receives less than 30 percent of the Hispanic vote is in trouble. Since 1980 (the first election for which such data is available and reliable), no one has won a presidential election with less than 30% of the Hispanic vote. In 2012, Romney received only 27%.

Fortunately, Hispanic voting patterns are not set in stone. While it is unlikely that the GOP is going to win a majority of Hispanic votes anytime soon, it should be recognized that the Republican Party’s standing among Hispanic voters is currently at a twenty year low and that it was much higher fairly recently. George W. Bush did quite well among Hispanics. In 2000, he received 35% of the Hispanic vote and in 2004 he won between 41 and 44% (depending on the source).

This brings us to the question of why the GOP currently does so poorly among Hispanics. Between 2004 and the midterm elections of 2006, the Republican Party saw its share of the Hispanic vote fall by between one quarter and one third. While the GOP lost ground among pretty much every demographic group, the drop in support among Hispanics was substantially greater than among other groups. One thing that likely contributed to this collapse in support is that W’s attempt to pass a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA) was thwarted by a GOP-controlled Congress.

Perhaps more at fault than the actual failure of the CIRA was the nature of much of the right’s opposition to it. Groups such as the Minutemen received prominent news coverage and, while their motives may have been benign, they were portrayed as anti-Hispanic vigilantes and bigots. Such coverage may have been unfair, but it was not without a factual basis. In 2008, Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist expressed dismay at the number of organizations with “sinister intentions” that grew out of the Minuteman Project saying, “I very well may have been fighting for people with less character and less integrity than the ‘open border fanatics’ I have been fighting against.” On a less extreme level, it’s hard to argue that conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh help the perception of the GOP among Hispanics when they argue against immigration reform on the grounds that Hispanic immigrants are welfare-dependent, job-stealing, criminally-inclined drains on America’s public finances planning to reconquer the Southwest for La Raza (not that La Raza wouldn’t like a reconquista).

So why, you may ask, if the GOP is generally perceived to be unwelcoming to Hispanics, is immigration reform necessary to improve the GOP’s standing among Hispanics?

Well, immigration is more of a threshold question than a magic bullet. Passing immigration reform would demonstrate to Hispanic voters that the GOP is not hostile to them. There are currently large numbers of Hispanics who might be receptive to the conservative message on the value of hard work, traditional morality, and opportunity, but who reject it out of hand because they perceive the messengers to be hostile to them. We cannot persuade someone of the rightness of our position if they aren’t willing to give us a hearing in the first place.

But shouldn’t Hispanics already be receptive to our position? After all, polling tends to show that Hispanic voters care far more about the economy than they do about immigration.

It’s true that polling suggests that Hispanic voters care far more about the economy than they do about immigration reform, but that doesn’t really matter in this context. As Mickey Kaus astutely pointed out, the fact that voters in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District stated that the economy was a higher priority to them than immigration doesn’t mean that immigration doesn’t matter. Sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander, Hispanic voters may care more about the economy than they do about immigration, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about immigration.

What about the argument that amnesty would add millions of new Democratic voters to the electorate?

Opponents of the path to citizenship frequently make the claim that it will result in 11 million new Democratic voters, ushering in a permanent Democratic majority. While it’s true that providing a path to citizenship to those illegally in the country would lead to an increase in Democratic votes, the actual net effect is likely to be far less than the 11 million figure. First, it needs to be recognized that 11 million is the total number of illegal immigrants in the country and that not all of these are going to become citizens. I have a friend who is an immigration lawyer and staunch opponent of comprehensive immigration reform. His best estimate is that between 40 and 50 percent of current illegal immigrants will not end up becoming citizens — some because of ineligibility or return to their home country, most because they don’t really care about citizenship and would be content with legal status as permanent residents. Let’s assume the high end of his range opts for citizenship. 60% of 11 million is 6.6 million. That’s not the end of the analysis. Hispanics have a voter turnout of 48%, so of the 6.6 million eligible to vote only 3.17 million are likely to actually vote. Not all of these will vote Democrat. If we assume that the GOP is able to increase its share of the Hispanic vote from the currently abysmal 27% to a 2000 level 35% we end up with 2 million new Democratic votes and 1.1 million new Republicans for a net increase of only 900,000 Democratic votes. If the GOP can revive its share of the Hispanic votes to 2004 levels, the net increase in Democratic votes shrinks to 380,000.

And that doesn’t take into account the effect of comprehensive immigration reform on the larger established Hispanic vote. The first amnestied voters won’t go to the polls for a decade. By then, the established (non-amnestied) Hispanic electorate will be around 35 million, of which around half, or 17.5 million will actually vote. Under current voting patterns, the GOP will receive about 4.72 million of those votes. If the GOP share of the Hispanic votes rises to 2000 levels, it will receive 6.13 million votes and if it rises to 2004 levels it will receive 7.7 million votes for a net increase of between 1.41 million and 3.02 million votes. Thus a path to citizenship, taken on its own, will likely lead to a net increase of between 380,000 and 900,000 Democratic votes, but the overall effect of comprehensive immigration reform will likely be a net Republican gain of between 500,000 and 2.6 million votes.

What about the risk that amnesty will just induce another wave of illegal immigration?

I agree that’s a real problem. That’s why I oppose comprehensive immigration reform at the moment. At least until we control the Senate, preferably until we retake the White House in 2016.

* In fairness, Murphy did make some of these points, or points of a similar nature.

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  1. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Salvatore Padula:

    Ed- I’ve a wager for you. I’ll bet you a bottle of the liquor of your choice that if the GOP is in the majority and the White House in 2017 Kaus will still oppose CIR.

     If that were the case then we wouldn’t need CIR. We’d get enforcement first.

    • #151
  2. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    It also depends on what you mean by CIR once we get enforcement.

    • #152
  3. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Ed G.:

    Salvatore Padula:

    What made W an outlier? How did he appeal to Hispanics? Is it a coincidence that the two republican candidates (Reagan and W) who did best among Hispanics were also pro CIR?

    Well that’s the key then. Publicly support CIR but refuse to vote for any specific proposal since once it’s passed we lose the Hispanic votes right away.

     That would be better than our current position.

    • #153
  4. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Ed G.: There are legitimate concerns about culture, welfare state, and employment levels.

    Agreed.

    More specifically, though, do you think the fence indicates a hateful position? Do you think e-verify is a hateful position considering that it’s meant to not only prevent new illegal immigration but also to force self-deportation of illegal immigrants due to lack of opportunity for continued employment?

    No.  I said nothing about “hate” and specifically omitted any mention of racism.  No doubt a few who oppose immigration are genuine racists, but I believe most are not.  As you say there are legitimate concerns.

    My point is that our side talks a lot about building fences, enforcement, self-deportation, threats to the culture, welfare dependency, and “stolen” jobs.  These are the positions that define the GOP in the mind of many low-information swing voters.

    • #154
  5. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Jager-I completely agree that what I propose is a risky electoral strategy. I don’t think we have any other option. Unless the GOP can win more of the Hispanic vote then it has recently it is doomed to permanent minority status, even if it retains its present share of white vote. I view this as a choice between certain defeat in 15 or 20 years, or the chance at maintaining electoral liability (admittedly, at some increased risk of hastening permanent minority status).

    • #155
  6. user_2505 Contributor
    user_2505
    @GaryMcVey

    I’m sympathetic to Sal’s smart arguments, and he’s fighting a ten-to-one swordfight. 

    Long before Mickey became so identified with this one issue, he said something genuinely insightful about GWB: “He wants to be the Lincoln-like liberator of Aztlan (the southwest)”.  Taken all by itself, it’s an admirable, understandable impulse for a president. Who wouldn’t want to be to Latinos what LBJ was to civil rights? If it could be done?

    What more, sometimes you do something for the country even if it means you get somewhat screwed. When Harry Truman ordered the military to integrate, he knew damn well it wasn’t a vote getter, at least in the short term. Same with LBJ and the civil rights bills. 

    But short term political suicide with no long term payback? America better need it pretty bad if we’re supposed to accept this on any terms whatsoever.

    So how do we get a generation or two of “Liberator of Aztlan” loyalty without balkanizing our major cities, or putting 10 million existing Americans out of work? That’s the trick, not lack of desire to do something courageous.

    • #156
  7. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Joseph Stanko:

    Ed G.: There are legitimate concerns about culture, welfare state, and employment levels.

    Agreed.

    More specifically, though, do you think the fence indicates a hateful position? Do you think e-verify is a hateful position considering that it’s meant to not only prevent new illegal immigration but also to force self-deportation of illegal immigrants due to lack of opportunity for continued employment?

    No. I said nothing about “hate” and specifically omitted any mention of racism. No doubt a few who oppose immigration are genuine racists, but I believe most are not. As you say there are legitimate concerns.

    My point is that our side talks a lot about building fences, enforcement, self-deportation, threats to the culture, welfare dependency, and “stolen” jobs. These are the positions that define the GOP in the mind of many low-information swing voters.

     But if there are legitimate concerns there and not hate/bigotry, then why is it a problem that these issues stick in the minds of low-information swing voters?

    • #157
  8. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Gary McVey:

    I’m sympathetic to Sal’s smart arguments, and he’s fighting a ten-to-one swordfight.

    Long before Mickey became so identified with this one issue, he said something genuinely insightful about GWB: “He wants to be the Lincoln-like liberator of Aztlan (the southwest)”. Taken all by itself, it’s an admirable, understandable impulse for a president. Who wouldn’t want to be to Latinos what LBJ was to civil rights? If it could be done?

    …..

     Does the southwest need to be liberated? Is that an admirable impulse when no one is, in fact, enslaved?

    • #158
  9. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Ed G.:

    Salvatore Padula:

    Ed- I’ve a wager for you. I’ll bet you a bottle of the liquor of your choice that if the GOP is in the majority and the White House in 2017 Kaus will still oppose CIR.

    If that were the case then we wouldn’t need CIR. We’d get enforcement first.

    CIR includes enforcement. I don’t think standalone enforcement will ever pass, even with republicans in control.

    • #159
  10. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Gary McVey:…..

    But short term political suicide with no long term payback? America better need it pretty bad if we’re supposed to accept this on any terms whatsoever.

    …..

     I more worried about long term national suicide without even any short term political payback. I don’t believe our positions are unreasonable and I don’t believe that abandoning them will result in political gain while I do believe it will result in real damage to our country.

    • #160
  11. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Salvatore Padula:

    Ed G.:

    Salvatore Padula:

    Ed- I’ve a wager for you. I’ll bet you a bottle of the liquor of your choice that if the GOP is in the majority and the White House in 2017 Kaus will still oppose CIR.

    If that were the case then we wouldn’t need CIR. We’d get enforcement first.

    CIR includes enforcement. I don’t think standalone enforcement will ever pass, even with republicans in control.

     Some bigoted group we are then.

    • #161
  12. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Gary McVey: I’m sympathetic to Sal’s smart arguments, and he’s fighting a ten-to-one swordfight. 

     10 to 2, I’ve got your back Sal!

    • #162
  13. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Ed G.: But if there are legitimate concerns there and not hate/bigotry, then why is it a problem that these issues stick in the minds of low-information swing voters?

    Because the Hispanic swing voters we are trying to reach are pro-immigration, and this issue is very important to them.  Because they have family, friends, or neighbors who are here illegally and they don’t want to see them deported.  Because they have family back home they want to bring here and the red tape to do that is overwhelming and expensive.  Because when they hear sweeping claims that immigrants are lazy, just here for the welfare benefits, or dangerous criminals, they take it as a personal insult to themselves and their families.

    • #163
  14. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Joseph Stanko:

    Ed G.: But if there are legitimate concerns there and not hate/bigotry, then why is it a problem that these issues stick in the minds of low-information swing voters?

    Because the Hispanic swing voters we are trying to reach are pro-immigration, and this issue is very important to them. Because they have family, friends, or neighbors who are here illegally and they don’t want to see them deported. Because they have family back home they want to bring here and the red tape to do that is overwhelming and expensive. …..

     So are you saying that the way to mollify these voters is to abandon the legitimate concerns we have along with the positions that tend to those concerns? If not, what are you saying we should do then? Because Murphy seems to be suggesting that we do CIR now whether or not any enforcement piece is real.

    • #164
  15. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Ed- assuming, for the sake of argument, that passing comprehensive immigration reform would result in the GOP’s share of the Hispanic vote rising to 40% without reducing our white vote, would you still oppose it?

    • #165
  16. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Salvatore Padula:

    Ed- assuming, for the sake of argument, that passing comprehensive immigration reform would result in the GOP’s share of the Hispanic vote rising to 40% without reducing our white vote, would you still oppose it?

     Depends what’s in it.

    • #166
  17. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Ed G.:

    Salvatore Padula:

    Ed- assuming, for the sake of argument, that passing comprehensive immigration reform would result in the GOP’s share of the Hispanic vote rising to 40% without reducing our white vote, would you still oppose it?

    Depends what’s in it.

     So is it fair to say that you don’t place much weight on the political element of the immigration debate?

    • #167
  18. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Salvatore Padula:

    Ed G.:

    Salvatore Padula:

    Ed- assuming, for the sake of argument, that passing comprehensive immigration reform would result in the GOP’s share of the Hispanic vote rising to 40% without reducing our white vote, would you still oppose it?

    Depends what’s in it.

    So is it fair to say that you don’t place much weight on the political element of the immigration debate?

     No, not exactly. It’s just not preeminent.

    • #168
  19. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Ed G.: If not, what are you saying we should do then?

    I outlined my plan back in #16.  In short: forget about CIR, propose a generous guest-worker visa program instead. 

    • #169
  20. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Salvatore Padula: So is it fair to say that you don’t place much weight on the political element of the immigration debate?

     I don’t place much weight on it myself.  I support immigration reform because I think the current system of “let them sneak in while we look the other way” is a travesty that undermines the rule of law, and because I think allowing more legal immigrants in (and then assimilating them) is good for the economy and good for the nation.  

    If it wins us more Hispanic votes too, that’s just gravy on top.

    Frankly what we need are more immigrants like Annika Hernroth-Rothstein who come to this country because they love it and still believe in the Land of Opportunity.  People who have lived under real socialism and real tyranny and came here to escape it, not copy it.

    • #170
  21. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Salvatore Padula:

    What made W an outlier? How did he appeal to Hispanics? Is it a coincidence that the two republican candidates (Reagan and W) who did best among Hispanics were also pro CIR?

     Wasn’t 2004 (when W did the best with Hispanics) the value voters election The Hispanic electorate in 2004 was more religious, more opposed to abortion and more opposed to gay marriage than the Hispanic Electorate of 2012. His boost could have been social issues not immigration.

    It may be a coincidence that they both supported CIR. They also were both seen favorably by social conservatives. (the old way of thinking was that Hispanics should vote republican because they agree with Republicans on social issues.) Reagan and Bush were from California and Texas, high population states with high % of Hispanic voters. How much of there popularity was from the hometown crowd and not the national electorate? ( I really don’t know the answer to this) 

    • #171
  22. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Joseph Stanko:

    Salvatore Padula: So is it fair to say that you don’t place much weight on the political element of the immigration debate?

    I don’t place much weight on it myself. I support immigration reform because I think the current system of “let them sneak in while we look the other way” is a travesty that undermines the rule of law, and because I think allowing more legal immigrants in (and then assimilating them) is good for the economy and good for the nation.

    If it wins us more Hispanic votes too, that’s just gravy on top.

    Frankly what we need are more immigrants like Annika Hernroth-Rothstein who come to this country because they love it and still believe in the Land of Opportunity. People who have lived under real socialism and real tyranny and came here to escape it, not copy it.

    I support immigration reform primarily on policy grounds as well, though I think I place greater weight on the political arguments than you do. 

    As a side note, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that this thread has largely avoided devolving into a debate over immigration generally. Thanks everyone.

    • #172
  23. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Joseph Stanko:

    Ed G.: If not, what are you saying we should do then?

    I outlined my plan back in #16. In short: forget about CIR, propose a generous guest-worker visa program instead.

    I don’t favor that approach. I respect your reasoning, though, even though I ultimately disagree with it (because of those legitimate concerns I mentioned earlier). For one thing, you’re not trying to intentionally muddle the distinction between favoring this on its merits vs making a political calculation; you’re upfront about your support and I agree with your general prioritization of good idea over politics.

    • #173
  24. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Joseph Stanko:…..

    Frankly what we need are more immigrants like Annika Hernroth-Rothstein who come to this country because they love it and still believe in the Land of Opportunity. People who have lived under real socialism and real tyranny and came here to escape it, not copy it.

     Unfortunately there will be no such screening process.

    • #174
  25. wmartin Member
    wmartin
    @

    Joseph Stanko:

    I think the unfavorable perception is that our side is against immigration and immigrants, period. The perception is that we are against any increase in legal immigration, that we want to build a fence and moat on the border, then either forcibly deport all the illegal immigrants already here or else wait for them to “self deport.” That we see them as threat to our culture, our way of life, the English language, as just here to sponge off welfare, and of course “they took our jobs.”

    Also, I think there are a fair number of people on our side who really do hold the position I just outlined. I have no idea what the percentages are, but this position does exist, and makes its views known loudly online and on talk radio.

     Most of that does sound very good to me. A candidate who put that in the Republican platform would pick up a lot of white votes.

    • #175
  26. wmartin Member
    wmartin
    @

    Joseph Stanko:

     

    I don’t place much weight on it myself. I support immigration reform because I think the current system of “let them sneak in while we look the other way” is a travesty that undermines the rule of law, and because I think allowing more legal immigrants in (and then assimilating them) is good for the economy and good for the nation.

    We currently bring in around 1 million legal immigrants per year. What number would you like?

    • #176
  27. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    wmartin: Most of that does sound very good to me. A candidate who put that in the Republican platform would pick up a lot of white votes.

    Thanks for illustrating my point.  I respect your position, but I respectfully disagree with it.

    I think Ed G. overestimates the number of conservatives who would be willing to accept an amnesty contingent on an “enforcement first” approach.  Heck even I’m against amnesty if it includes a “path to citizenship,” people should not be rewarded with citizenship for breaking the law!

    • #177
  28. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    wmartin: We currently bring in around 1 million legal immigrants per year. What number would you like?

     My proposal is a work visa program similar to the H1-B visa, but expanded and greatly simplified.  As it stands you pretty much need the services of an immigration lawyer to secure one, putting it out of reach for small businesses hiring minimum wages workers or a family trying to hire a nanny.  I would make it a simple online form.

    The key point is it’s tied to a specific job offer from an employer.  No job, no visa.  So I’d answer your question with the stock conservative response: let the market decide.

    • #178
  29. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Joseph Stanko:

    …..

    Thanks for illustrating my point. I respect your position, but I respectfully disagree with it.

    I think Ed G. overestimates the number of conservatives who would be willing to accept an amnesty contingent on an “enforcement first” approach. Heck even I’m against amnesty if it includes a “path to citizenship,” people should not be rewarded with citizenship for breaking the law!

     Actually, I don’t have a clear conception of who would accept what. My personal preference is security and enforcement now – and then let’s see what happens over the next ten years or so after that. I know that’s unlikely on its own, so I’m willing to compromise on “amnesty” (that’s a big umbrella that doesn’t necessarily include citizenship).

    My perception is that most on my general side of things have noticed that real enforcement and border security are the non-negotiables. How many would compromise? None, if the leadership on our team intimates that they think we’re racist and stupid too. The right leader could make some headway and accomplish something real.

    • #179
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